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Rock Veterans Outscore The Newcomers

December 23, 1990|RICHARD CROMELIN

Has rock's youth movement hit the wall?

With the exception of winner Sinead O'Connor, the English band World Party and two rap entries, The Times' consensus best albums of 1990 are from artists whose combined discographies would be as thick as the Westside telephone directory. Even Sonic Youth, the most adventurous occupant of the Top 10, has a back catalogue of nine albums.

Last year, by contrast, six of the Top 10 were debuts (N.W.A., Neneh Cherry, Tone Loc, De La Soul) or second albums (Fine Young Cannibals, Peter Case). The only debuts this year are the two rap albums, by Ice Cube and Digital Underground.

The persistence of patriarchs like Neil Young (whose "Freedom" topped last year's poll), Van Morrison, Paul Simon and Lou Reed reflects not only their own continuing or renewed inspiration, but also less-than-overwhelming efforts by such usual critics' pets as Prince, the Replacements and Los Lobos--and the inactivity of such others as R.E.M. and U2.

Rap might have been the most vital area of pop music last year, but only Ice Cube and Digital Underground represent the genre in the best-album voting. Conspicuously absent are "Fear of a Black Planet," by the critically admired Public Enemy, and the two albums that burned up the charts: M.C. Hammer's "Please Hammer Don't Hurt 'Em" and Vanilla Ice's "To the Extreme."

Albums are awarded 10 points for each first-place vote, nine for second and so forth. Here are The Times' pop music critics' first-place choices for 1990 album of the year:

Dennis Hunt--Bell Biv DeVoe, "Poison" (MCA) Mike Boehm--Neil Young & Crazy Horse, "Ragged Glory" Richard Cromelin--Lou Reed and John Cale, "Songs for Drella" Darrell Dawsey--Kool G. Rap & Polo, "Wanted: Dead or Alive" (Cold Chillin') Jonathan Gold--Slayer, "Seasons in the Abyss" (Def American) Patrick Goldstein--Sinead O'Connor, "I Do Not Want What I Haven't Got" Steve Hochman--"Ragged Glory" Connie Johnson--"I Do Not Want What I Haven't Got" Randy Lewis--"Ragged Glory" Kristine McKenna--Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds, "The Good Son" (Mute) Jean Rosenbluth--World Party, "Goodbye Jumbo" Don Snowden--Johnny Adams, "Walking on a Tightrope" (Rounder) Don Waller--Kirsty MacColl, "Kite" (Charisma) Chris Willman--Was (Not Was), "Are You Okay?"

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